tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN July 8, 2014 6:00pm-8:01pm EDT
quorum call: a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. a senator: i ask that we dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. donnelly: i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to calendar numbers 906, 907, 904, that there be debate equally divided in the usual form for debate on the nomination, the -- that upon the use of time the senate yield be all time and all roll call votes be ten minutes in length. further if any nomination is confirmed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table with no intervening action or debate, that no further motions be in order to the nomination, that any statements related to the nominations be printed in the record, that the president be
immediately notified of the senate's action and the senate resume legislative session. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. donnelly: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. donnelly: madam president, i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of calendar number 440, s. res. 447. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 440, senate resolution 447 recognizing freedoms of the press and so forth. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. donnelly: i further ask the committee reported substitute to the amendment be agreed to, the resolution as amend be agreed to, the committee reported amendment to the preamble be agreed to, the preamble as amended be agreed to and the motions to reconsider to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table with no intervening action or debate.
the presiding officer: without objection. mr. donnelly: i understand s. 2569 introduced by senator walsh is tell desk -- is at the desk and i ask for its reading. the clerk: s. 2569, a bill to provide incentive for businesses to bring jobs back to america. mr. donnelly: i ask for its second reading and object to my own request. the presiding officer: objection having been heard, the bill will receive its second reading on the next legislative session day. mr. donnelly: i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today it adjourn until 10:00 a.m. on wednesday, july 9, 2014; that following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date and the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day, that following any leader remarks the senate be in a period of morning business until noon with senators permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each
and the time equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees, that following morning business the senate proceed to executive session as provided for under the previous order. and finally, that following disposition of the adams nomination and resuming legislative session, the senate resume consideration of the motion to proceed to calendar number 384, s. 2363, the bipartisan sportsmen's act and that all postcloture be considered expired and the senate proceed to vote on the adoption to proceed. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. donnelly: tomorrow there will be at least one roll call vote at noon on nomination of the castro nomination to be secretary of housing and urban development. we expect voice votes on confirmation of the vet ter and adams nominations and adoption on the motion to proceed on the sportsmen's bill. if there is no further business to come before the senate, i ask that it adjourn under the previous order. the presiding officer: the
weekend for the harlem book fair with discussions on the state of african-american literature, multi-cultural book publishing in the black arts movement with live coverage seven morning 1145 eastern on c-span2 book tv. >> the house veterans' affairs committee holds another in a series of hearings this evening looking at the veterans affairs department. this one focusing on whistle-blower suit reported an adequate services to veterans. that is live here on c-span2 at 7:30 p.m. eastern. >> iraqi ambassador to the u.s. says his country needs more american military assistance to combat the radical group. they spoke at the carnegie endowment for international peace for a little more than an hour. >> good morning. i wanted thank you all for
joining us today for this important discussion on the future. as you know, much of western iraq over the last months. the two days ago iraq and syria, a new islamic state ushering in a new era of international gian. and further announcing a terrorist for the new state. if these developments have put iraqi prime minister under intense pressure international as well as domestic to form a new government as soon as
possible. hopefully that will include representatives al in order to govern. today we are on our with the ambassador and the challenge assume that this exists to form a new, inclusive government as well as continuing to fight and struggle. he serves as the iraqi ambassador to the united states since july 2013. prior to this see served as the iraqi ambassador to japan. the ambassador also live in the united kingdom, information technology sector. and serving in senior management positions for two major transnational. thank you, again, for joining
hands. let me remind everyone that the ambassador has asked to speak briefly for ten minutes in order to allow the opportunity for you to ask as many questions as possible. he will have to leave at 1130. so i would appreciate it if we all just remain seated while the ambassador has his remarks and, of course, the question and answer session. ambassador. [applause] >> good morning, everybody. thank you very much. thank you to have an opportunity to speak at this prestigious place.
it is a privilege for me to be here. such an important time. our country is coming back to the focal point as i mentioned, the ponds -- the iraqi people are under direct authority that terrorists safe-haven the does not respect the rule of law including many muslims do not swear allegiance. they declare themselves as the only rule. it provides a challenge in the region and the glow. the prime minister and his government.
the current balance can only be quelled through a strategy that includes security, political and economic pressures will. the prime minister has stated that they are committed to building a national unity government that embraces and empowers all segments of society regardless of religious, ethnicity, and regional backgrounds. i will talk about three topics, the formation of a government and support from the united states. the prime minister is forming a government. and also the election largely considered to be fair and the international community.
establishing a government out of the current political process and potentially to further destabilize the country. currently forming a government that disregards election results and promotes the same is trying to perpetrate. this would undermine democracy institutions among erode confidence in the elected government and sends the message . the bottom line is that the process of forming a new government should not be undermined. otherwise it means nothing. the newly elected parliament today will start the formation
of a government. iraq is working to build the institutions of government. that process is underway and must not be undermined. meanwhile, the iraqi people are under an immediate and violent threats to from the terrace and the terrorist threat must be. under security aspects the prime minister and his national security team are working to counter a threat to iraq and his people. the united states assistance to turn this-. the dominant decision, a counter-terrorism experts to support our armed forces. however, the institutions on the
ground are developing radically. it threatens the integrity with potential regional. the common enemy of the iraqi people. we must work to defeat that. we believe that immediate military assistance included started air strikes that were crucial to the feet this growing threat. we have chosen. our relationship is governed by the strategic naturally we have
always had positive relations with other countries as well. the precious relationships and the precarious situation. it is difficult for us to deploy and assistance from any other century. one half for example, the iranians have offered to fair to provide military, assistance another example present is that iraq has purchased a number of aircraft from russia. our third choice was to buy american made f-16s with the process of delivering to not meet the immediate threat that we face.
but rest assured that we will never chores to sue tuesday's the balance of we have with the united states and any other country. my government has purchased more than $10 billion with the necessary military equipment from the united states. we are planning. our country's are forever tied together because of the lives we lost and the treasures we spent the last decade. finally, i cannot underscore the fact enough that people of iraq are being threatened, intimidated, and killed by terrorists. regardless of their ethnicity, identity, in an effort to advance the goals.
this is not just the threat to iraq. the entire region. among other things, all prices are threatened to rise of the situation is not resolved. if allowed to consolidate their will be a safe haven spending western iraq, syria, and lunch additional attacks against the iraqi people. thank you again. [applause] >> thank you very much, ambassador. let me start the discussion you started emphasizing this problem cannot be solved militarily. i cannot help but notice that
most of your speeches been devoted to talking about manipulation. and you have not given us a clear idea of what is envisioned in the country to get iraq out of this crisis. many people feared the future of iraq, not just because of isis but also because of the declared or undeclared intention to basically separate from iraq. and so we are talking about the situation in which it is very humble. i hope you can enlighten us more about this political process that would convince also said the that their future lies in a
unified iraq. >> first of all, when i talked about the military, needing to change its rain we're all aware that we need to have a political process alongside a military process. however, from the united states, a strategic agreement with stocks about the integrity and protection. this situation in iraq is developing rapidly. iraq has never faced such a challenge. the reason is that as you mentioned, there are number mind
that. one is social cohesion. the other is the aftermath and its impact on the society. as more less destroyed the middle-class, the fabric of the society and most importantly it gives different segments of the society a different vision on what it means to be an iraqi. in that sense, they were marginalized and someone the media have that issue. the political process, trying to bridge those narratives into a cohesive one and you have challenges. the effectiveness of parliament, the fragmentation of the political, thereof challenges. no one is denying that.
however, we face now is a different level altogether. does not believe in any social cohesion. does not believe in the other. it does not expect other and that is not home grown. it is transnational which means that it will have an impact on the region in the globe. iraqis have their own domestic challenges at that point. the first is backwards. we do that. a new democracy. the main area of preserving our agreements, i'm okay with that.
but when you have an illegal threat, if you have access for your the wealth such as oil or control : it comes with damage to the region and the globe. and this is over talking about now. their ambitions. these issues where be resolved in due time providing everyone to which we have agreed on. in any society having such authority, having in the effect on the society to my elections
taking place, it's a sign that people of democracy. the threat we face is immediate to us and the region. this is what has to be talked about today. the political issues, there has to be. >> so to make things clear. some view isis military advances as having happened within an environment that self marginalizes and not because necessarily isis has a lot of military power. in your view, ambassador, does isis see the defeat of iraq as a necessary before a political process is that mr. deasy the two working in parallel? >> they are in parallel. more or less technology. the lack of development or
challenges that they face. and we used to have a long side the military, but however, the issue is not that they are not knowledgeable. the capability to such challenges, have to mobilize the people. the air supremacy. challenges. we cannot close with that. we cannot play the same game. what do we do? we bombard them. there's been talk. issues will last few days.
but all are moving in. the returns which means that literally housing and others, the culture of destruction, we cannot match that. as a state we cannot match it. so you have challenges. technology, capability. we talked about the it's an immediate threat now, but they get along side mature up. yes. would they? to change a culture does take time.
the government's and the region. >> let me ask you a question to answer from ambassador. the political process that you're talking about, if it becomes clear, and i'm saying f, the prime minister is going to stand in the way of a national unity government, is there a scenario where you would still expect the election but where, they agree on a different prime minister, not, of course, ignoring the results of elections. but in the interim of deserving, would you envision such a scenario?
is the question of the prime minister's name? >> i'm not aware of any agreement at this moment. have not talked about the name yet because they want to wait and sell the parliament debate. from the speaker, the presidency . would the prime minister get the votes to back his 700,000 votes. 200 from parliament. it is likely he will. is it certain? no. if to wait for it to take shape. problems i would say no. the challenges we have are not the issue. it is much more fundamental issues. the political class, new to
democracy, new governing. they're taking their time to learn. and the issue should never be personalized. it is an easy vote solution for us to brain -- blame somebody. the person should not even have a chance to put his name forward. i think we need. the democratic presence. and i would say that personalizing it will not benefit. it is easier to complain. is the easy way out. >> i'll ask one more question
and will open at of. the parliament's to first-degree later on, would imagine parliament will also need to agree for the republic. given what we're seeing for a tendency among the kurds to withdraw from iraq has a state, do you still envision that the parliament would agree on a kurdish president and would declare along with that even with what many believe is there intention to withdraw and declare that things will not go back to how they used to be. >> when we agreed on the constitution that included the kurds. fire remember, around 95 percent
. and seven new constitution is talked about, assuming that there will place in the federal. they have agreed. not still on going. there was an agreement. the other part, we will allow it to block for each entity if that is the right word to use. and if they do not we have two persons for the presidency. two or three.
a happy solution. that is ongoing. they made it public before. [inaudible] an independent. however, the social contract a half. until a new social contract as defined we expect them to play their role in the development of the political and security of iraq. they believe in their constitution and the political process can they get their own state? it has its own challenges,
geopolitical as well as other challenges. to remind? well, we will leave the. and that measure of the process, we expect. >> okay. let's open it up. many questions, many people. please keep your questions short, identify yourself. >> in the interest of allowing as many as possible. >> what would you say is the ultimate objective? our they looking to take baghdad is that an immediate concern? >> okay.
>> we will be andrew bernstein, to questions. there's been a lot of negative press in the united states on the russians with the fighter jets sense said iraq. i like if you could please explain that deal. the second question, many in the united states have said that this is fundamentally an issue that has to be sold regionally and not just within iraq. what are we going to do with the regional partners that we have which include states such as parenchyma cells arabia, a general to file a former aide to general patraeus. they believe in the strategic interest to have a little bit of
terrorism. so how do we get a regional cooperation out of that mix? >> okay. >> the question is, do you think it is possible to compare the situation in molly with the situation in iraq, the western army not ready to come to solve the problem. >> okay. >> it transnational that does not believe in the existence anybody who is different to the strict understanding of islam.
consider al qaeda. they think that there are two on the fringes so in that sense baghdad or the old globe, there were saying that they had to go. representative. so unfortunately. that is the reality of it we have already asked again and again the estate's to provide us this was some time ago. and so earlier this year when it was stuck in the congress. and we as a state or stuck between the white house and the
decisions. wanting to be part of this has to the position. however, unfortunately that was the result. what we see now is one of the aftermaths to the situation. back in august. similar tell all levels of the state. if you cannot provide us with our own, we will give you the approval, the legal and other logistical. and unfortunately that was not received until the situation in the last few weeks.
unfortunately we all lost that opportunity. it would have been an easy process. it was clear where the bad as our. that the opportunity. as far as russia, as i said before, as public as possible, we don't have to -- the situation on the ground is pushing us to choose whether there is variable. we are aware that the state institutions for approval, a lot of stakeholders. we respect that, but except our own sources. and that choice is primarily from the needs.
we avalon list of requirements. second-hand. on the part. >> the original solution. >> regional solution, we know the for fact. we have been saying for a while. we been the victims of terrorism. we know that in fact until recently none of the suicides were iraqis. they were primarily from regional allies. now with the situation in syria it has become a global phenomenon. it seems like they have a market in which they promote syria as the tourism destination. and we are every day from
afghanistan to chechnya to others. i am also aware that even the united states, they don't want. so we know that this is a global phenomenon. and we have said to our neighbors, no one is immune from it. i really think that. no one, none are immune from it because this is a global disease . we have not found the treatment. >> i am ambassador john hudson. you mentioned that if iraq cannot give to support that it needs from the united states there will be forced to reach out to other partners such as iraq.
what sort of additional support, military support might iraq tried to acquire as it battles insurgency? >> okay. >> hi. jennifer from the middle east institute. you said that isis is primarily a transnational threat. there are reportedly working. would you consider including these officials in any future reconciliation process? >> yes. >> i was wondering if isis actually does come in and takeover, would they be able to use the military equipment that now exists against neighboring countries? >> as far as i know, it's
destructive. any capability that they have. so whenever, cavaco, the actual hardware or any other, they will utilize. they consider it as a reward. it is the danger. as far as iraq, we are aware of that on international norms and rules against purchases dealing with iraq in a military way. they have the threat themselves to the labor, specifically and
those that consider the sheer act national-security. and we understand that. also understand, the part of national security as a muslim to the iranians. however, we have said again that we must acquire or need for should require iranian assistance if we have the united states. most of the conflict is on the experience dealing with isis in syria. so in a sense we are aware of international norms and do not want to break with any international convention or any type of united nations sanctions
against iraq. at the same time in the area of cooperation, we cannot get elsewhere, we would do that because we both know. >> whether the process would involve -- >> sends them change their has been erratic -- dramatic discussion inside the political entities as to who do we accommodate and to do we not. the final conclusion, which is still developing, by the way any foreign entity, we cannot except them. however, home grown resistance,
ideology, we can have that discussion with those who disagree with the government. we are okay with that. they have not used weapons against the stake. those who are not involved in the bloodshed. those who are, we cannot accept that. >> if i may interject also at this point, a lot of people are concerned that this is the first time, i terrorist radical organization, this is probably never, even in afghanistan, not happens to an organization like this across syria and iraq.
how confident are you that this is a situation where the iraqi army will be able to regain control over the territory, or are we to expect a long-term struggle between fear the army and the general organization. >> we think that the support, international dilations, looking to prolong the process. we have had difficulties controlling the border. and so we do that we can not contain. because i already have a supply line. the safe haven. so we need to. the united states is looking above. until we control the border
unfortunately this will be a prolonged process. certain towns or provinces. the gateway is fast. americans have challenges themselves. a long process. we don't need to support immediately. you have to think of this as a long process, to be able to sustain it, defeated, and to resolve issues to do with the capabilities. and that discussion, the question. >> they are different is considered an important country in relation to charter fee,
culture, history. so in a way the civilization. we are all part and play a role in trying to look at iraq not just as an internal issue. the situation has internal domestic issues. we need to provide for the displaced in of the occupied are destroyed. the issue when they have controls and have destroyed. the christian churches and so on . so to them they do not believe.
it's an important part. >> you talk about controlling the border. do you view this as a military operation, or do you view this as a political process that must include regional countries as well? >> the iraqi-syrian border, you always have reliance to support the state. because of the vastness and so on. however, until we control the border which is a military objective, until we have a better, we can't react to the situations. and unfortunately this bleeding will continue. we have to work on local tribes.
we have to work on the local political entity. the political process, the government. but at the same time when the dow have a strong military capability. the only one which can provide us that. >> all right. >> thank you very much. you were talking about funding. this sell oil directly to the regime. is there anything that can be done to stop the funding? given that the regime is also striking, do you see a contradiction there with the current level of discussion? >> the situation -- >> we will take a couple more. >> can you explain -- eric
taylor from the state department. can you explain your views on the future applications for oil with the continued presence in the region? >> my question, and it as kind of been brought up already. i want to bring up the topic. if they do go and declare independence the briefly mentioned that they still at the moment should span the constitutional framework that the agreed upon. my question is would you find that the iraqi state to work militarily with an independent barack kurdish state to fight terrorists as they currently exist or is that kind of cooperation not really something that baghdad can never agree.
>> currently the government controls so they do not have direct contact from that government without going through . they already have that challenge now. the military action taking place. and they know more than anyone else. therefore we always said we're happy to work with the weather and a citizens and kurdish community in our fight. we talked about future. i will leave that to the future discussions.
means that they do not think the primary job is to provide services to the local people. that is not their objective. the objective is to create a variance in the region with they will thrive on. we read the champions of this. i will do that. that is the ultimate narrative. even yesterday. their objective is to bring more destruction so that it becomes more of the civil war. so in that sense we will work with syria and whomever and to try to start with the capabilities and the financial ability so that they will have.
ultimately be defeated. >> the contribution. >> contradiction, anomalies are normal in our situation in the region. what we have, the threat is in iraq. but at the same time, the government trying to control our side of the border and to help us fight against iraq, we will do that. we have a common threat. their relationship to explore that and to convince that. >> avenue. next. please.
>> mr. ambassador, you repeatedly mentioned the need for unity in the new iraqi government. all that being said, do you have any comments on a recent amnesty international reports suggesting that the revenge killings of muslims have occurred at the hands of government forces. >> okay. >> chris from the institute for gulf affairs. the prime minister has views saudi arabian peninsula supporting him providing isis with weapons. was just wondering what kind of evidence exists and why there is a more condonation internationally. >> yes. >> hi. thank you, ambassador. i just wanted to touch upon
something that was said about -- their question about the areas that are being captured and if they are being marginalized. i have been reading news reports about the fact that the first goal of capture is to establish social services and they're illegitimate government such as food for poor, unemployment, benefits like that. i just wanted to know if there was any sense from iraqis on the ground to make regard isis favorably because of these services or if you could explain more about the situation in the captured areas. is it always violent? does it always take that town? is there kind of a sense in some areas that it is captured a legitimately end is available because these areas were already marginalized. >> one more question. >> i'm michael crowley. there are reports that mortars landed very near the shrine
please can you talk about the situation, the threat, how well defended it is, how close isis may be in your concerns about it? >> well, have control over a place. toward the border. more mobile capabilities through the premise as some people were killed. that is the situation. as far as they human rights concern, yes. our immediate concern is with the situation, users can attest, violence of any type will be the first. yes. the government's, we have tried
to bring the kurdish government to help secure some of the minorities to protect because we know that the current balance would be the first victim. unfortunately that is the case elsewhere as well. that is why we have been trying to say we need to control that and we need to focus on the minority. the areas or minorities were. protection. there have been reports that there have been prisoners executed. were looking into that situation . i think this situation is much more complicated. i am aware, unfortunately.
when people look at the situation, on the ground, it's much more complicated than this simple narrative of the the city you talk about the kurds or not more rationalization, all these positions, what is marginal physician. so what i was saying is that the root cause rather than just the narrative. it's a bit more complicated. >> here. >> what i say is we know for fact that saudi arabia does not affect the borders. we know for a fact that they have not worked as hard as they
can to minimize the damage to minimize some of the funds. we work with you. we work with a run, all of the region to try to bring some predictability to the sectarian balance. with the region, we don't help anybody. no one is immune from it. no one is immune from it. please, pull your weight so that we can all work together and this is where the prime minister was coming from. ..
government and the line 40. it will be to go he said that that article no one talks about it [inaudible] >> you talked about how it is a transnational threat and how it can't be solved in just one country so do you belief that any relative reaction needs to include a form of action and serious as well as in iraq? >> that is another angle. yes please. >> good morning.
>> i have a couple of questions. the first one is where is the european role in all of this and if you see the role for them in the cul-de-sac that's going on right now what would you like it to be and that suck and question is what do you think is the tipping point in the conflict going to be if it moves to jordan as they have been declaring to you think that will be the tipping point where this will have an intervention from the u.s. or other? >> we are confident the united states will look into the situation in a holistic way. we do not want it to be escalated to other regions.
it is less contained now otherwise the destruction is too big. the countries of the region are fragile and therefore we cannot afford the luxury of waiting until it becomes third or fourth country so in that sense i'm confident the united states will play a major role in bringing balance and stability to the influence of the region. article 140. only you would ask that by the way. [laughter] article 140 hasn't been talked about from the kurdish
government for a long time which is a reflection of where it has to be which has to do with more government and the court issues and try to put aside the dividend areas. he made that statement public and reviewed that. if they think it is addressed then fair enough. there is an obligation on both parties to try to bring some closure not forcing the status quo. 140 is an article that talks about -- it was discussed back in 2005 and the timeline was
i would say my humble advice is do it peacefully. the >> so whether they would have action in syria -- >> the relationship with c. or e. wouldn't get involved in another operation in serious. at a debate on their side and from our side we look forward to other countries such as the united states to control the border and i would say as far as i know they know the interdependency on both sides of the border.
it is somewhat making it difficult. the british foreign minister said we have yet to see a tangible role for the eu in iraq. however it is needed to get there as well having jihad come from a large amount of them coming from others we see in syria and elsewhere so we know they have an international dimension and so for their state and ourstayindoors we need him . >> and we have time for one la last. >> thank you minister. i have two questions.
first how do you see the ambassador conditioning for u.s. help on achieving the advances on the political process and the second there are fears in washington that the administration may be giving the illusion of being concerned but in reality there is nothing real going on on the ground in terms of supporting the iraqi government. >> from bankrupt international going back to the constitution what do you see there is a role for the federalization in some sort of a political settlement? >> i wonder if you could speak more about the iraqi government thoughts regarding russian military support here.
are there more that you think you might buy from them and is there a rule for russian military advisers in iraq? >> one last question. yes sir please. >> richard lynn's international relief. nobody touched on the displaced iraqis as a result of this other than that you then and a little bit of money at the international relief response has been poor to say the least. i can't think of anything the u.s. has done. mr. ambassador what do you see as the principal requirement for an international response to this humanitarian crisis clicks >> it was the first casualty within a couple of days of the situation. there were 400,000 people mostly
eating displaced. it's an immediate threat i would say. when the secretary was in iraq he talked about that as well. however the challenge is bigger. as a government we have the issue of accessibility to it. so it's not the issue of funds we just need the food and everything else provided to the case. the government is providing a tremendous amount of answers and we are focusing on that. however what we have is not sustainable.
that is what we talked about. the fact that we resolve this issue militarily although we also know they had issues with the house is so there was a domestic issue to address which was crucial as well and that is another area of concern. the formula that we have declared a simple. whoever is available including russia. we haven't used them for a while so this is what we are talking about. we've chosen the united states as our partners choice and still want a strong military security
and other types of strong relationships with the united states as a strategic choice and even when the secretary kerry was there last week we made it clear to him we need your help now. don't put any conditions not that we aren't willing to work with you to address the issues it's just the political situations in the 20 with other issues yes we are willing to do that discussion but don't condition because the risk is in immediate aid t if the thread is too important to think about the conditions of it. changing the politics we will tell you it is not easy in our region. providing military help can significantly change and provide
a more i would say influenced for the united states and iraq. this is a test to that relationship. >> there is a question about whether it has a genuine concern. >> we never doubt that. the provision we know that the united states is serious and they understand the scale and the threat and we never doubt that. doubted that. however what we are saying is we need more because of the urgency on the ground and that is what we are talking about so we are not disputing the commitment of the united states to iraq. the issue is the scale that we are talking about. >> thank you for the discussion
and the patience in answering difficult questions. please join me in thanking the ambassador first. [applause] >> please remain seated until the ambassador leaves. thank you very much. >> a live look inside of the houshouse office building on cal hill. we are coming up in a few minutes the house veterans affairs committee will be holding another hearing on the veteran affairs department. members tonight will focus on the role of whistleblowers who report inadequate services to veterans. it's coming up live at 7:30 p.m. in about 15 minutes from now.
until then the chair of the senate veterans committee senator bernie sanders was on the senate floor earlier today. >> i wanted to say a few words about the conference committee in terms of legislation and protecting the needs of our veterans. we are working hard on the senate. his staff have been meeting. i've been in touch with the chairman in the house. house. i thought we had a very productive conference committee before we left. and let me say this as we continue to proceed. if there's anything i've learned since i've been the chairman of the senate committee on veterans affairs is that i think as a people and a nation we underestimate the cost of the
war and before anyone votes to go to the war again i think they should appreciate what the repercussions of that are and going to the war means not just in the case of afghanistan or iraq losing some 6700 brave men and women. that's a terrible loss that i also want people to remember the families, wivesand the kids, mothers and impact that has had on their lives and the need to protect them to make sure they have the life they are entitled to despite the loss of their husbands but it is not only loss of life. we have had a horrendous epidemic of men and women coming home with post traumatic stress disorder. no one is quite sure of the number but it could be as high
as 500,000 coming home with ptsd and that is a very difficult illness that needs a lot of care and again that impacts the entire family. it impacts the ability of the worker to go out and get a job to earn an income and that is a cost of the war. the cost for those that came without eyesight and the cost of the war. the cost of the war is in a high rate of suicide. the cost is those that are now having to rebuild their lives and on and on it goes.
bottom line is the cost of the war is enormous in terms of suffering and impact on not only the individual that fought in that war on the entire family. as i think of her colleagues for several weeks ago senator mccain and i put together a proposal to deal with the current crisis at the va and i'm proud of that legislation passed in a vote of 93-3. what are we dealing with? what is the cost of this proposal click this is an expensive proposal because the cost is expensive. of the veterans are waiting to be scheduled for medical appointments. these are the folks that run
these waiting lists some of which were secret and some have the data manipulated and should be getting it with timely health care but were not. and on top of it there is an unknown number of veterans because of the poor work being done at the va. many of those people need to be seen. so whatever legislation has done, to say that we are going to make certain that all of these veterans are waiting for health care anhealthcare and thd for for too long for healthcare will in fact get healthcare as a soon as they can and either through private physicians, they will get the healthcare and community health centers and the
department of defense military bases they will get the healthcare in a timely manner. madam president that is good to be an expensive proposition. you cannot provide health care to tens of thousands of veterans in a short pie period of time outside of the va. but there is a substantial sum of money what is clear to me and anybody that studied the issue is that if you are serious about eliminating the waiting list and getting people into the va we have got to make sure that in every facility in the country they have the requisite number of doctors, nurses, space and
other types of personnel that they need to accommodate the growing number of people coming into the va. and if we are talking about hiring thousands of doctors in a moment that we have a very serious shortage in the country that will be an expensive proposition as we will hire him the nurses and the other personnel in building or leasing the space we need. but long term if we are serious about keeping our commitment for the men and women that put their lives on the line to defend the country that is exactly what we have to do. third area that is going to be expensive and that is in this legislation for the first time we've said to the veterans if you are living a distance away from a va facility more than 40 miles, you are linked to be able to go to a private doctor
and that will cost us some money as well. >> i would be happy to yield to the senator from illinois. >> i don't ask for the floor but i would like to address the senator from vermont first thank you for your bipartisan effort that senator john mccain which led to an overwhelming bipartisan vote on the floor of the senate to address what we consider to be a crisis in the veterans administration. press reports suggested in the most extreme situation that some veterans lives were being compromised because of the failure to provide timely care to these veterans. it resulted in an investigation of the facilities all across the united states and it resulted in the resignation of the secretary of the veterans administration and promises for the medical reform. but i have to say to the senator from vermont what you accomplished with senator mccain
is tangible and i would like to ask two or three questions about the current state of affairs. how long ago was it that we passed on the floor of the senate this bipartisan measure? second committed in both emergency spending to deal with the emergency in the veterans administration complex and third to the house version of the reform includes the resources that you were talking about with the doctors and the nurses and facilities to accommodate this wave of veterans? i think those questions are critical and i would close by saying thank you again and again because as the head of the committee you have reminded us of the cost of the war. there are many people that voted to go quickly that won't vote quickly today for the care that we promise our veterans when they come home and thank you for
caring. >> thank you for your support of the veteranthe veteran to let me answer the last question and go through the others. i think throughout the history in the country not only in iraq and afghanistan i think as a people we have underestimated the cost of the war. there was no word called ptsd at the end of world war ii with anyone that thinks they didn't come home suffering that ailment would be very mistaken. so the cost of the war is real and it isn't just missiles and tanks and guns. if the country needs anything we take care of all of those that serve when they need that care. i think that it was about three weeks ago when we passed that legislation by a huge vote. i think of is 93 to three to
support bipartisan support for the bill but equally important to answer the important question in the ways that the senator from illinois there was also overwhelming understanding that paying for this bill is a cost of war. it has to be emergency funded and in a strong bipartisan vote the senate said yes. in terms of the house bill it as a reasonable bill but they did not go into the detail that we did in terms but the major point i do want to make today and i was going to get that and i appreciate the senator from illinois for raising it. this bill isn't going to be paid for by putting education or food stamps. that isn't going to happen. it isn't going to happen first of all because it's not going to happen and second of all, it would be grossly disrespectful to the veterans of the country. the veterans of this country
need help. they need help now. the legislation must be passed as soon as possible, and it must be passed in terms of the emergency funding. i would ask my friend from illinois can he recall what kind of programs were offset and what kind of taxes were paid. >> i were to address the senator without asking him to yield for. on the invasion of iraq and afghanistan, it was at least with the understanding of the president that these would-be costs that would be added to the deficit of the united states. we wouldn't be paying as we thought. we would be waging the war and spending the money necessary and
we want to deal with the cost at a later moment in time. many of us even those that voted against the invasion and i was one of 23 on the floor that voted against it voted for the resources saying that if our men and women in uniform were risking their lives we will stand by them and bring them home safely. i also be believed and understood that i had an obligation to every one of those men and women in uniform have been promised to them that if they would risk their lives for america whether it's health care or education or the basics of life we would be there. and i say to the senator from vermont thank you for reminding us of the pledge made by america to these veterans and i believe the pledge made by democrats and republicans in congress and those to stand by them when they came home.
>> the senator is exactly right. it isn't clear how much of those will end up costing. the estimate is between three to $6 trillion. the point of the senator made us even those that voted against the war, and i did as well, understood that when you send men and women off to battle a have to have all of the resources they needed to do their mission, and equally important what we are saying now when they come home wounded in body and spirit, we need them to have the resources they require to make their lives whole again. that is a moral obligation so i think the senator for raising that point. madam president, i would support a second but let me conclude by saying this. i want to see the bill passed as
soon as possible. we are working as hard as we possibly can. but anyone who magically thing is that the only problem facing the nba is more accountability and management is not correct. we do need better management at the va. we do need more accountability at the va and this legislation will provide that. people who are incompetent should be fired and there must be more transparency and there certainly must be a much clearer chain of command that goes for a washington to the regional hospitals and facilities and back out again. but at the end of the day, the best management in the world is not going to provide quality and timely health care that the veterans need unless we have the
welcome everybody to tonight. titled dea whistleblowers exposing an adequate service provided to veterans and ensuring appropriate accountability. i would also like to ask unanimous consent that the representative tom price from the great state of georgia be allowed to join us and participate in tonight's hearing. without objection, so ordered. i think i heard an objection. tonight we will hear from a representative sample of the hundreds of whistleblowers that have contacted our committee seeking to change the va to improve patient safety and better serve the veterans who have served our great nation. we also hear from the office of the special counsel regarding its work protecting the whistleblowers and the vital information that they provide. the representatives will also be here to answer for the departments reprice holes against whistleblowers and its continuing failure to abide by
its legal obligation to protect employee rights and report waste, fraud and abuse and mismanagement to the inspector general, to the council, to the congress and to this committee. it's important to emphasize the scandal regarding the data manipulation of the scheduling did not spring forward out of thin air at the department of veterans affairs. deceptive performance measures that serve as window dressing for automatic bonuses have been part of the organizational cesspool at the department for many years. instead of being a customer driven department, the focus instead has been on serving the interest of the senior managers in charge. the manipulation of the data to gain the performance goal is a widespread cancer in the va. we have often heard the va is a
data rich environment, but when it is exposed as a visible trouble to manipulation come it cannot be the date of the distrusted. until recently the va would continue to try the patient satisfaction exceeds the private sector. that may be true at a few select centers however as our colleague demonstrated through the local polling such results have been overgeneralized. moreover in the course of the committee we have held a series of hearings showing a pattern of preventable patient deaths across the country from pittsburgh to augusta to columbia and phoenix. the satisfaction results are refuted by piece tragi these trs and every one of these locations whistleblowers played a vital role in exposing the patient deaths at the department.
they serve that the central function of providing a reality check on what is actually going on at the department. at a great risk to themselves and their families they dare to speak truth to power. the system is designed to crush the dissent and altered the fruit. tonight we are fortunate to have three distinguished positions testify with regards to their experiences in the va. we will also hear from a conscientious program manager in the va national health eligibility center who will show that the disease of the data manipulation may have spread to the initial eligibility determination for the medical benefits. none of these whistleblowers lost sight of the essential mission of the va, the mission to serve veterans. they understand that people are not inputs and outputs on a central office spreadsheet. they understand metrics and
measurements mean nothing without personal responsibility. unlike the supervisors, they have put the interest of the veterans before their own interest. unfortunately, what all of these whistleblowers also have in common is the fear of reappraisal by the department. they will speak of the different tablet three tactics used to keep the employees in line rather than pushing them out it is time that the va -open-brace the integrity and accomplish the promise of providing high-quality healthcare to america's veterans. in order to make sure there is follow-through in the va, i've asked my staff to develop legislation to improve whistleblower protections for the va employees and i invite all of the members of the committee to work with us towards the end. wait for that i now yield to my good friend and a ranking member
for any opening remarks that he may have. >> this committee has held many hearings over the last year on problems with access to the va health care. at each of the hearing's problems were disclosed and that the va promised to improve, but little has changed. the va is widely known to have a culture of denying problems, not listening to feedback. be it from congress, veterans with its own employees. the department of the administration has had the reputation as being intolerant of whistleblowers. so far this fiscal year nearly half of the matter is transmitted to agency heads by the office of special counsel and several involve the va. according to the osc, it currently has 67 active
investigations in return for a complaint from the va employees and has the cases from the va employees as of june 12014. a recent "new york times" article stated that within the va. they recently stated that he was the way disappointed not only in the substantiation of the allegation by the whistleblowe whistleblowers, but also in the failure within the department to take the whistleblower complaints seriously. the problem of the intimidation and retaliation may be magnified by what some consider a protected culture of the medical profession. it is often thought to be against the code to point out
colleagues mistakes or where a nurse is told that it is not appropriate to question a physician or a surgeon. the natural tendency is to close the ranks where the mistakes were made. after we listened to the testimony from the whistleblowers. we worked to address those problems. changing the culture is not easy and it cannot be done legislatively permit additional resources at it. real solutions are hard to find. it is clear that they are
structured and are incapable of making changes in the culture. i noted that acting secretary gibson announced today that it has taken steps to restructure the office of the instructor by creating a strong internal audit function which will ensure quality care patient safety remains at the forefront. this raises a additional questions on how they will be better enabled to undertake investigations resulting from whistleblower complaints forward by the osc or how it would also have the authority to ensure that medical actions will be taken to the appropriate components of the va. time and time again as the june letter demonstrates, the va found faults but determined they didn't affect the health and
safety of veterans. anyone reading the specifics of any of the cases would find that this conclusion as it is stated to be a serious disservice to the veterans have received inadequate patient care for years. i agree that june 23 letter quotes that this has prevented them from a comforting the severity of the systematic problems and from taking the necessary steps to provide quality care to veterans. and of quote. we all seem to have some goals this evening. we all want the va and we used to feel comfortable raising problems and having them addressed without the fear that raising their voices would mean the end of their career. the va stated that it wants to make fundamental changes in the cultures of the workforce intimidation and retaliation is unacceptable.
talk is cheap and change is difficult. i would propose the first order of business is to take accountability seriously. if any employee is a show to have intimidated or retaliated against another va employee, then that employee should be fired. the va should have zero tolerance of policies that would harm whistleblowers and in committee at whistleblowers or retaliate against whistleblowe whistleblowers. as i see it, effective leadership and accountability is the only way to begin the process of institutional changes. and i hope tonight is the beginning of that change. with that mr. chairman and i yield back the balance of my time. >> thank you and i would ask that all members would wave their opening statement as it is the custom of the committee. thanks to the witnesses that are here at the witness table
tonight. our first panel that we are going to hear from his doctor matthews the former chief psychiatry at the st. louis va healthcare system. the associate director chief of staff o legal and quality assurance for the greater los angeles va healthcare system. doctor katherine mitchell medical director for the iraq and afghanistan post-deployment center at the phoenix va healthcare system and at this time i would like to introduce the colleague doctor price to briefly introduce his constituents that will be the fourth witness on the panel this evening. >> i want to thank you and the ranking member for allowing me to offer this introduction. this is a remarkably important topic and i commend the committee for the work that you have done. i worked at the va hospital for a number of years during my training and they know how important it is to have honest and real information for our veterans to honor the service which is why we were pleased to
welcome mr. scott davis will be on the panel. his father served in the vietnam. mr. davis is a specialist at the national health eligibility center in atlanta and he' he has been in contact with my office outlining his concerns and he has come forward with those that he has been a courageous manner. i have no doubt his testimony will shine a light on the situation. we must know the facts on the ground. i welcome mr. davis and thank you for allowing me to join this introduction. >> we appreciate you joining this evening and i would ask the us is if you would please rise, raise your right hand. hand. do you swear under penalty or perjury the testimony you are about to provide is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
please be seated. all of your statements will be entered in the record. you are now recognized for five minutes. >> chair man and distinguished members of the kennedy i am honored to appear before you today to speak about my experiences serving in the capacity as the chief of psychiatry for the department of veterans affairs in st. louis missouri and the capacity of the detail when i was removed from the position. i want to very briefly outlined the goal i had when i took the position as the chief of psychiatry leaving my full-time faculty position at the university. i had simply wanted to create the very best care possible with the resources that i have added very soon i realized that the metrics i had that they were putting out was not reflecting what i was actually seeing. i made the point that i would
review every complaint and the majority of the complaints that i have had to do with their inability to obtain care at a reasonable time. the long wait times having difficulty even contacting the clinic to schedule an appointment. so i started out with a simple question as to how busy are we really at the outpatient clinic. and the answer that i got was not very good. i got the answer and they verified that the psychiatrists were spending approximately 3.5 hours into patient care i couldn't account for the rest of their time. i put this transparently as a prospective data where anyone could challenge me and ask me questions whether that was accurate or not and i didn't get one valid question. so i knew that it was accurate and i discussed this with the chief of staff and i wanted to
change this. there were two things i wanted it changed. one is that the veteran had easy access to care, timely access to care and the second was that no veteran but he turned t would bf they came into the clinic. i had a very sad and complaint the disabled veteran that had requested his friend to drive because he doesn't drive. he drove approximately an hour and i have to com a half to comc and he had to requests. he wanted to see his provider because he wasn't doing well and he wanted his medications refilled. unfortunately he had neither of those requests met and was sent away with another appointment 48 days later and his medications were not retold and just before the meeting i checked and that veteran unfortunately hasn't come back to the clinic since last may and his description of
that includes how disappointed and how upsetting the va was for not providing care so that was the context of how i started out. i discovered that the time wasn't being utilized properly and that there were a long wait times and the metric that is important especially in mental health is engagement in care where the dropout rate and what i found is that there were 60% of the veterans that were not coming back for their visits in the outpatient setting so there was a 60% attrition rate so there were only four pieces of information that i needed to provide good care. one was the weakest time and the second was the utilization of the expertise or what amount of time does the physician actually expand the indirect patient care and there was the retention of the care how many veterans actually follow up with care or drop out of care.
it'if the veteran satisfaction h care like a chair man miller talked about these surveys must be incomplete and may not be in the spaces. i wanted it to be a complete set so i talked to those i knew from washington university and they pledged $60,000 over two years to institute a satisfaction survey so i had the contract with the education contractor and i want people in and dialed questioners and my intent is that while the veteran is waiting in the waiting area to be seen what would be able to complete the questionnaire using touchscreens which would be automatically compiled and i would have the information on whether a particular clinic or health care professional i need to focus on so this last bit was very concerning to the staff and shortly after i made the
disclosure including the avoidable death i wanted the analysis on and the impatient suicidsuicide attempts while the commission was reviewing the hospital that was completely covered up and i did not go along with that so very shortly i was pu putting detailed and ws told there would be an administrative investigation and that i was put in the attention he valuations. i took this job also dealing with veterans. i tried to complain and while they were processing my complaints, i took this very seriously to evaluate the veterans whether they had a compensable mental disorder related to this service. in many instances the veteran was and her properly and i had doubts whether the prior evaluation report was the same veteran or not and this was a
serious concern so i started to look at their ideas again to make sure that this wasn't some other person. and the problem was that the veterans did not have enough time to explain the situation. it was a conveyor belt system where i was specifically told i was spending too much time with the veterans and i should hurry up and see the veteran and check a few boxes because it is meant for someone to raid the disability but that wasn't how i saw my job and that isn't the right way to do it. these are disability valuations and you have to make sure they are stored properly third is to make sure my report reflects the inconsistencies so they can
determine how i made my decision. there were a few errors that were there and that really bothered me. i wrote to the chief of the primary care recently about these examples about why this was unfair and how it affected the life of the veteran and just two weeks ago in june i detailed out to another place, so from my perspective i believe that the veteran's interests first and i have disclosed the wrongdoings that i found promptly to the chief of staff and the chief of mental health with expectations that they would address it and what i found is that nothing is
really changed. two weeks ago via response to my finding about these evaluations that were not done properly was to detail elsewhere. this seems to be an ongoing practice. when it is detailed i don't have any responsibility of the chief of psychiatry and that is the responsibility that i accepted. the two people that i had worked hard to recruit one was trained at hopkins and the other at harvard and they both declined to join the va. there is a sense of a mission that is lacking and i hope this committee with its covers what h take aggressive action to make sure this retaliation stops and that people responsible are held
accountable because with it being so unbelievable it is really important that while we work on the data to make sure that it reflects is important that people step forward and are then able to speak the truth and then talk about what's happening at the patient interaction level and i think that -- i'm hoping the committee would do that and i am really honored that i have this opportunity to be able to answer questions and then to be here. >> we will have an opportunity to ask questions and get into the specifics. next i would like to recognize the doctor for five minutes. >> thank you for inviting me to testify today. i am honored and i think it is a very important topic. we shouldn't lose focus of that.
i am very proud of my position and i can think of can't thinkr job in serving our veterans. that retaliation is alive and well across the country. especially with the va administration. my first encounter with a number of years ago. by the inspector general to investigate time fraud in my area. i was among the 30 individuals that gave testimony. i gave honest and true testimony ended during the testimony i feared retaliation and i outlined how i felt they would retaliate against me. every aspect came true. the person that did the deposition was an inspector solomon from the inspector general's office and she promised i would be protected in the state and federal governme government. three months after they came out with the final results, one of the individuals paid back a year
salary to the federal government and resigned. another individual who they recommended immediate termination was allowed to stay under the supervisory role. there was an end-of-the-year party because we were affiliated with the university that was nearby and at that party, this slide was shown. that actually is me. i was younger back then and i had hair. i am flipping the bird and i said if all else fails. with 300 individuals i was labeled a rat. i was labeled the person that drafted out this person. the slide that follows this is so heinous i can't even show or discuss it today. i could discuss it under a subpoena. the person is still in the supervisory role at the va.
no apology, nothing. i somehow survived that. the retaliation. the problem they have is the va and the veterans deserve better than matter what happens to me to focus should be on the veterans of the country. i somehow survived that process. and again i was retaliated when i gave my opinion on the investigation of the physician that was wrongly terminated. i was asked to change my testimony and i stopped getting paid for two weeks. i didn't lose my house, but the
harm that it causes the family members of federal workers who are being retaliated against cannot be measured. two young girls i would be proud if they decided to join the armed forces or work for the va. i think the va has the potential to be one of the finest institutions in the world. we have seen certain aspects of pharmacy cannot be matched. it's one of the best in the world. a very efficient. but there are those that are efficient within the system. but what we should ask of assaults when someone came up with the idea of seeing a veteran in 14 days, that was actually it sounded like a good idea. they would be seen promptly. what we should be questioning is if we made a mistake that somehow overloaded the system, how come people's names disappear off the list's how come hundreds of thousands of
veterans electronically no longer existed? that should be the question. retaliation exists because there is a culture. the culture of the retaliation is that the cancer or the veteran administration. most physicians and nurses and people working in the hospital are disgusted. people care. some of the testimony that he we heard from the phoenix va with a wrenching. i couldn't sleep. and i believe there's a lot of people in the system that feel the same way. but there is a cancer in the leadership. a few individuals that perpetuate this idea that we should be silent. that we shouldn't stand up and tell them to do the right thing and be honest. everyone makes mistakes.